Monday, August 15, 2011

Cross Selling in the Call Center

I was surprised when I heard the Call Center Manager explain to me that they do not ask the agents to cross sell because it does not work. The manager went on to say that his agents are not trained to sell and asking them to do something they are not trained to do would be a waste of time. His metrics would also be adversely be affected by having his agents cross sell. I suggested the agents did not need to sell but rather just bring up the idea of another product or service.
When was the last time you were so surprised that you were almost speechless? This is what happened to me when I was talking to this manager for a major insurance company. His entire argument about cross selling does not work because of training is ridiculous. I am in sales and I no without a doubt that cross selling works. In fact it worked on me the other day.
"Yes, I am calling to receive a copy of my mortgage interest statement for 2010." "Ok, please give me your account number...." After the main purpose of the call was done the agent asked me if I was interested in learning about the current interest rates for refinancing my home loan. "Sure" I said and I was quickly transferred to another agent that did some routine questions with me then I was transferred to a loan officer. Within 15 minutes I was ready to make a decision.
Cross selling works. Call Centers and Call Center Managers that do not cross sell are missing a tremendous opportunity. I suspect the insurance company CC manager was afraid that cross selling might negatively affect his metrics and scorecard. This manager is missing the big picture.
For those that want to employ cross selling there are some very basic rules to follow:
1. Train the agent to mention only a single product or service;
2. Make the cross selling statement simple and quick. The statement should take no more than 5 seconds to ask;
3. Remind agents to cross sell using your call center reporting tools such as wallboards, desktop messaging and weekly meetings;
4. Everyone should be cross selling, everyone;
5. Reward the agents that cross sell, especially the successful cross sellers;
6. Track your efforts.
Cross selling works and more call centers should employ this technique to boost review. By the way the question, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" is not cross selling.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Call Center Metrics

Earlier in the month I wrote a blog about metrics for a help desk service center.  Soon after I received a request to provide the top metrics for a call center.  This is a larger subject than will fit in a traditional blog so I am including it in my monthly email message.

To be clear there is no single metric or statistic that is the panacea for the call center manager.  However, there seems to be a trend where certain metrics have favor over other metrics.  Back in the late 90's I recall Service Level as being the most important metric for the call center.  More recently it has been metrics such as FCR (First Call Resolution), CSat (Customer Satisfaction)  and AHT (Average Handle Time).  Now AHT has lost its luster and some managers are wondering whether CSat is a valid metric.

If there isn't a single metric that everyone should use then there might several metrics that managers use.  So I tallied the metric requests from 100 random Spectrum customers from the last 12 months.  This table shows the top ten metric requests from Spectrum customers.  These metrics are for ACD's only and do not include other data sources such as WFM, CRM, IVR, FCR or CSat.    These metrics are for the Skill (group) level and do not include agent metrics.

To read this table - 65% of Spectrum customers selected Calls in Queue as one of their metrics to be reported on, 58% selected Oldest Call Waiting as one of their metrics, and so on.

I wanted to know more about why these metrics for the skill (group) were selected by the call center managers. So I called on a few Contact Center Managers and asked for some feedback.

An on line retailer suggested that the calls in queue, number of abandoned calls and oldest call waiting were extremely important to her call center.  "With the economy the way it is we cannot afford to miss one call or keep people waiting. They [the customers] might hang up and never call back and we do not want to lose that revenue. We also know from experience how long the average customer is willing to wait before abandoning the call so we keep the oldest call waiting up on the wallboards.  Our agents know when that call is getting up to 25 seconds old they may lose that call."

Some call centers do not see calls in queue or oldest call waiting as an important metric.  A manager of a free technical support hotline explained it this way. "We have a free technical support line and we have a Gold Support line [that customers pay for support]. For the free technical support lines the number of calls in queue and the wait time are not important to me. For those [free support] calls I am more concerned about the total number of calls received and the [number of] agents staffed."

If a single call center metric is not something that can be agreed on then possibly the use of a balanced scorecard is the solution.  To create a balanced scorecard select 5 -6 metrics based on your company goals and determine your current status for these metrics. Next provide a weight (level of importance) to each of these metrics and compare your status against industry benchmarks for these metrics. You can also use your own company benchmarks instead of industry benchmarks.  A scorecard takes multiple metrics to create a status single number for your call center.  Over time a manager is able to see how the call center has performed.

There are challenges with scorecards that have prevented wide spread acceptance.
    * Industry benchmarks that do not have a large enough sampling;
    * Benchmarks that are not specific enough for the call center;
    * Lack of information from the call center making the scorecard incomplete;
    * The managers reluctance to find out how well the contact center is performing.

A single universal metric that all call centers must use to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the call center does not exist.  Each call center manager must decide for themselves what are the best metrics to use and track for their call center.  A balanced scorecard may help the manager be able to trend how the contact center is doing against other centers and over time. However, complete information and trust in the benchmark numbers must exist for the scorecard to be accepted and used.

Spectrum is a leading provider of Unified Contact Center Reporting.  Contact Spectrum today to learn more about Top Call Center Metrics.

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Dan Boehm
VP Sales and Marketing
713 986 8839

Monday, August 1, 2011

Help Desk Metrics

Last week I was speaking with a Director of Operations in charge of a Help Desk Customer Service Center. This director was interested in metrics he should be using for his operation. One issue that he mentioned at the beginning of the conversation was that he did not want typical call center statistics.

Our conversation explored his customer service center and what his goals were for the center. It is interesting the differences between inhouse and outsourced customer service centers. I have found that inhouse centers focus on the number of tickets opened and closed while outsourced centers fixate on SLA's. Perhaps given their respective reporting responsibilities it maks sense.

For this outsourced service center I suggested the following metrics to report and track. These metrics are not in any order or priority.
Total Number of Tickets Logged per Product - real time and for the day
Total Time Worked per Ticket and per Product
Average Number of Tickets per Product
Average Time Worked per Ticket per Product
Tickets Opened per Product real time and for the day (this differs from Tickets logged)
Tickets opened per Product for the Day
Service Level real time for the day per Product / All Product / Group
Tickets Closed pre Product real time / day
Average Handle Time per Ticket per Product (Can be a misleading metric)
Max Handle Time per Ticket per Product
Max Handle Time all Tickets / Products
First Call Resolution per Product
Tickets resolved in X hours since Logged per Product
Tickets resolved in 8 hours since Logged per Product
Tickets resolved in 24 hours since Logged per Product
Tickets unresolved for the day / week per Product
Tickets escalated per Product for the day
Customer Satisfaction Rate per Product / Total
Ticket Closure Ratio per Product / Total
Average Time to Close VS SLA's
Average Response Time per Product

All of these metrics should be run by group and by agent as well. This level of detail can show which groups are performing well and which CSR needs training. There are many idiosyncrasies with help desk metrics that can be misleading and should be analyzed prior to using the data in performance reviews.